By Mary Judaline Partlow | Philippine News Agency
DUMAGUETE CITY – A massive re-greening initiative in Negros Island has hit its mark this year, planting 10 million trees four years ahead of schedule.
The movement, dubbed “10 Million in 10 Years for a Greener Negros” (10M in 10), achieved its goal in just six years with a seedling survival rate of 79 percent to 85 percent and 307,552 units of carbon dioxide emissions sequestered.
The “10M in 10” was launched in 2015 by the geothermal power firm Energy Development Corp. (EDC) to restore the rich and lush forests of Negros Island.
It started with only 90 partners, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, provincial and local governments, the academe, media, and civil society organizations.
It now has 268 partners all over the island.
The movement was conceived to not just plant trees but embark on sustainable reforestation programs involving stakeholders to promote environmental protection and conservation and sustainable multi-sectoral development.
Despite the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, the reforestation partners continued with their initiatives, planting as many trees as they could on land and water.
“We have been a member of ‘10M in 10’ since 2015 and so far, we have planted over 500,000 mangrove trees in the mudflats of Tanjay City, covering 50 hectares,” Sidney Lee, project coordinator of “10M in 10” partner Allied Mangrove Planting Organizations, said during the sixth-year virtual celebration on Friday.
Lee presented a video clip of his group’s accomplishment, showing the vast expanse of mangrove areas that they covered over the past six years.
Another partner is Rene Vendiola, owner of Liptong Woodland in Valencia, Negros Oriental, a sanctuary to hundreds of rare and endangered plants and trees endemic to the area, as part of his commitment to maintaining the region’s biodiversity for future generations.
“If you count the population of Negros, we are more than a million. If each member of the family will plant five trees, then we will have five million trees. That’s already several hectares combined and that’s very helpful for the environment,” he said.
James Villaroman, EDC Vice President and Head of Strategy and Long-term Planning, said they initially did not know how many partners would be needed to accomplish the “audacious goal” but they had faith in the Negrenses.
“The people of Negros Island enabled me to see their deep love for the environment and for this reason, I believed that our goal was achievable,” Villaroman said in his keynote message.
He challenged the “10M in 10” partners as they begin the next chapter of their green revolution.
“This is where your true passion for the movement’s mission will be put to the test as you all work hard to ensure that the over 10 million trees that you have planted in just six years will all grow and thrive. Or are you going to stop at 10 million trees? This is where the strong collaboration and environmental advocacy in action that Negrenses or Negrosanons are known for should stand out,” he said.
The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is a pioneer in generating 100% clean, renewable, and reliable power as an electricity supplier in the Philippines for over 40 years. With power plants all over Visayas and Mindanao, the company is one of the biggest producers of geothermal energy in Asia and is expanding its reach in the international market, allowing it to offer customers affordable energy rates. EDC also strives to provide the best customer service it can to all its clients by having helpful salespeople and easy to understand contracts. Because of all of this, it is poised to become the premier supplier of electricity for the Philippines’ Green Energy Option Program. EDC takes its mission as a renewable energy provider seriously and goes beyond sustainability by investing in programs that enhance the environment and empower its partner communities, thereby fostering regenerative development. The company has also been working toward being carbon-neutral by improving its energy efficiency, as well as implementing various greening projects to ensure that its mission to provide future generations with a better life remains intact.